Basic Literacy

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A Major Challenge

A major challenge for adults and the community is the lack of living wage jobs that only require minimal literacy skills. As early as 2002, national surveys indicated “a Level 3 proficiency”* as a minimum standard for success in today’s labor market (Workforce Education Fact Sheet, 2008, NIFL).” In order for adults to live up to their potential and for our community to be healthy, we need to provide the accessible, effective, educational services necessary for them to increase their literacy skills. Literacy Volunteers-Androscoggin has been working toward these services for both native born and immigrant adults since 1974.

Low literacy adults in Androscoggin County must improve their reading, writing, and math skills in order to break the cycle of illiteracy and poverty, and to share their full potential with their families and their community. Experience has taught us that the most successful students are those working towards clearly defined, real-life goals that will genuinely improve their day-to-day lives. To do this, we help students identify specific goals they would like to accomplish in the areas of family, work, and community that are related to increased reading, writing, and/or math skills.

Volunteer tutors direct their learner’s lessons by using these very practical goals and frequently include everyday materials such as work-related forms, the driver’s permit book, cookbooks, and medical information. Using materials that are relevant and that can be applied to daily tasks makes it easier for adults to learn and retain their new literacy skills.

* Level 3 – General Professional Proficiency – Reading ability within a normal range of speed, with almost complete comprehension of a variety of authentic prose material on unfamiliar subjects. Ability to read is not dependent on subject matter knowledge, almost always able to interpret material correctly, relate ideas and "read between the lines." Can get the gist of more sophisticated texts, but may be unable to detect or understand subtlety and nuance. Rarely has to pause over or reread general vocabulary. However, may experience some difficulty with unusually complex structure and low frequency idioms.